Dion Lewis and Ray Graham vs. Matt Asiata and Eddie Wide
Dion Lewis and Eddie Wide will get the bulk of the carries for their respective teams. The question marks, are on the respective backups--Ray Graham for Pitt, and Matt Asiata for Utah. Graham sprained a knee in training camp, and is listed as probable. Asiata suffered a knee injury that ended his season last year.
According to Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham, he expects both of his tailbacks to get equal carries.
"We feel we have two very good backs in Matt Asista and Eddie Wide," Whittingham said. "We have two starters and anticipate equal carries, but if one gets the hot hand, we will ride that hot hand, which is natural. If we rush 35-40 times in the game, I expect they will each get 18-20 carries. There is no target number, we just want to keep them fresh and rotate."
Is Asiata proves to be healthy from the ACL injury, and if Graham looks back to 100 percent, both teams have the chance to put on a clinic on how to successfully use two running backs at the same time.
Jason Pinkston vs. Derrick Shelby
Shelby may have missed 2009 with an injury, but injuries can't change players' tendencies. He is a pass rushing force, and will be a good challenge for Pinkston. If Pinkston is truly worthy of being a first-round pick in April, this will be a good test, and a good chance to show the nation what he can do.
Shelby started the first 10 games last season, and led the Utes with eight tackles for a loss before going down with an injury. He has also played defensive tackle in his career.
"They're different (from Pitt‘s defensive line)," Pinkston said of Utah's defensive line. "They're defensive line is never still. They're always on the move. With our defensive line, it's mainly those four pressuring. With Utah, their linebackers and secondary pressure with them."
Chris Jacobson vs. Sealver Siliga
Both players may be the most physical player on their respective side of the line for their team. Though Jacobson enters his first year as a starter, his strong suit is his physical play. Siliga was a full-time starter for the first time last year, and had the most tackles (49) of any underclassman on the team. Siliga also has a 525-pound squat.
"(Jacobson) has a lot of pride," offensive line coach Tony Wise said. "He wants to be thought of the way John Malecki was thought of."
Greg Romeus vs. John Cullen
Sure, Cullen may be in his first year as a starter, but the junior-college standout from California was Utah's top signee this past year. Overall, Utah returns four of five starters on the line. Last year's starter--Zane Beadles was a first-team All-American, and now resides with the Denver Broncos.
Outside of all the returning linemen, Cullen was the most heavily recruited out of all of them, and is naturally suited for left tackle because of his reach, and his footwork. He'll get a good test right off the bat from Romeus, who appears to be the healthiest he's been since going down with an ankle injury, on the second day of camp.
"From an injury standpoint, we're probably as healthy as we could expect coming out of a very physical training camp," Wannstedt said. "Greg Romeus has obviously been a big topic, and he's been great this last week."
Jon Baldwin vs. Brandon Burton
A 6-5 receiver versus a 6-0 corner--the ideal size that NFL scouts drool over at the respective positions. The Utes are promoting Burton as an All-America candidate the way Pitt is promoting Baldwin.
The only difference is that Burton in the secondary, and very little experience elsewhere. Both safeties will be making their first respective starts. The other corner--Lamar Chapman--was Utah's primary nickel corner a year ago. Baldwin has a nice supporting cast of receivers behind him, on the other hand.
"There are a few guys back there who don't have a lot of DI experience," Whittingham said of his secondary. "They are tough kids and have the ability and are excited to get an opportunity."
Baldwin--who can draw double, or maybe even triple coverage, believes from what he's seen on film, that Utah will play a lot of man-on-man. It makes sense, hearing the confidence that Whittingham has in his three new starters.
"We've been watching them, from when they played Alabama two years ago," Baldwin said. "They went man-to-man against them, so I'm pretty sure they'll do the same thing against us. That's one of their base coverages."
Myles Caragein vs. Zane Taylor
Two players that are very technically sound at their respective positions. It may be the most competitive battle for inside leverage, of any spot on the line for either team, offense or defense.
While it might look like experience could sway in favor of Taylor, Caragein--despite only possessing one career start--has already played like a starter, according to defensive line coach Greg Gattuso, and had one of the best camps of any Pitt player. Defensive tackle was one of the concerns heading into camp, and one of the vacancies. Concerns over that position quickly disappeared after a few days of camp.
"Myles Caragein was rotating a lot with Mick and Gus, first-team All-Big East, (Defensive) Player of the Year," Gattuso said. "I believe he was equal to them. He's a great football player. We're in great hands with Myles."